Ah, the political springtime. The electoral sap is rising, and so are the party promises (or lack of promises) for unpaid carers. I’ll be looking at some of them over the coming fortnight—but first, for what it’s worth, here's one excellent proposal from Britain.
What’s being proposed in the UK is that workers who care for elderly, sick or disabled loved ones should have a legal right to extra paid leave to help them balance their caring responsibilities and jobs, the former care minister is proposing.
Paul Burstow is calling for a change in the existing law, the Daily Telegraph reports, to entitle workers recognised as carers to up to five days special leave a year to enable them to carry out their responsibilities.
He believes the move could help stem the tide of carers being forced to give up work, an exodus estimated to cost the economy £1.3 billion a year--translated into the New Zealand context, that’s around $120m--in lost productivity as some of the most highly qualified and experienced employees leave the labour force. (And that figure may be too conservative, with other calculations putting it at nearly three times as much.)
One other thing.
Mr Burstow is a former care minister in the British government.
Might there, one wonders, ever be room for such a portfolio in a future New Zealand government?
David Cohen is a Wellington author, commentator, and family carer who writes often about caring, ageing, and disability issues.